1st Edition

Curating the Great War

Edited By Paul Cornish, Nicholas J. Saunders Copyright 2023
    366 Pages 111 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    366 Pages 111 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Curating the Great War explores the inception and subsequent development of museums of the Great War and the animating spirit which lay behind them.

    The book approaches museums of the Great War as political entities, some more overtly than others, but all unable to escape from the politics of the war, its profound legacies and its enduring memory. Their changing configurations and content are explored as reflections of the social and political context in which they exist. Curating of the Great War has expanded beyond the walls of museum buildings, seeking public engagement, both direct and digital, and taking in whole landscapes. Recognizing this fact, the book examines these museums as standing at the nexus of historiography, museology, anthropology, archaeology, sociology and politics as well as being a lieux de mémoire. Their multi-vocal nature makes them a compelling subject for research and above all the book highlights that it is in these museums that we see the most complete fusion of the material culture of conflict with its historical, political and experiential context.

    This book is an essential read for researchers of the reception of the Great War through material culture and museums.

    List of Figures

    List of Contributors


    Introduction: Challenging perspectives on museums and the Great War

    Paul Cornish

    PART I: Museums, Identities and the Politics of Memory

    1: From one war to another: German army museums and exhibitions on the First World War, 1914-1940. Thomas Weissbrich.

    2: The Great War in French Museums 1914-2018. Bérénice Zunino.

    3: Curating on the frontier: The Museum of the Great War in Gorizia, Italy. Alessandra Martina.

    4: Curating Dominion Narratives of the Great War. Jennifer Wellington.

    5: Curating the Great War at the Imperial War Museum During the Second World War. Philip W. Deans.

    PART II: Museums and Materialities

    6: East of the Jordan: Curating and forgetting the First World War and the Arab Revolt along the Hejaz Railway. Nicholas J. Saunders.

    7: Conflict Landscape as Museum and Memorial: The Walk of Peace from the Alps to the Adriatic. Željko Cimprić.

    8: Digging a trench in an upstairs gallery: Commemorating the Great War in rural Dorset. Martin Barry.

    9. Curating the Great War in Poland: The prisoner-of-war camp at Czersk. Dawid Kobiałka.

    10: Curating the Macedonian Campaign. Andrew Shapland.

    11: ‘Oh! What a Lovely Exhibition!’: Exploring the Imperial War Museum’s First World War 50th anniversary displays, 1964-1968. James Wallis.

    12: Te Papa’s Gallipoli: The scale of our war: Curating innovation. Kirstie Ross.

    PART III: Audiences and Engagement

    13: Curating The Sensory War, 1914-2014: Emotions, sensations and the violence of modern war. Ana Carden-Coyne.

    14: Forgotten War? Coping with First World War trauma, and strategies for centenary commemoration in the Federal State of Tyrol, Austria. Isabelle Brandauer.

    15: Curating the Masonic Peace Memorial. Mark Dennis.

    16: What need of tears?: Collaborative memorial-making in the centenary of The Great War. Steve Dixon.

    17: Contested memories: Exhibiting the Great War in the Ulster Museum, Belfast. Siobhán Doyle.

    18: The predicament of material culture: In situ legacies of the Isonzo Front after the First World War centenary (2014–2018). Boštjan Kravanja.

    Afterword: Commemorating the First World today: The In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres, Belgium. Dominiek Dendooven.



    Paul Cornish was, for 32 years, a curator at Imperial War Museums. He is co-editor of the Routledge series Material Culture and Modern Conflict.

    Nicholas J. Saunders is Professor of Material Culture at Bristol University, UK, and co-director of the ‘Great Arab Revolt Project‘.